Week 3 consisted of one practice and one game. In Utah, there is a rule that prohibits practicing on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we are off until Monday. We also missed a day of practice because the boys’ and girls’ had home games on the same day.
In our one practice prior to our first game, we had a lot to cover. We added 3 simple underneath out-of-bounds plays and a zone offense. Otherwise, we continued to work on full-court games to practice our press, transition defense, and offensive execution.
Prior to our first game, I showed the guys a Flex offense, as most had never seen it before. Last year, probably 60% of the teams ran the Flex, and I had meant to practice against it during practice, but ran out of time. I tend to focus more on what we do, rather than what an opponent may do, so I kept playing games without own stuff to try and improve our spacing and timing offensively.
As it turned out, they didn’t run Flex. Most of the time, they didn’t run anything because our press made the game ugly. It was a typical opening game for freshman with lots of turnovers, lots of missed lay-ups, and lots of missed free throws. We trailed early, but finally grabbed a lead that we never relinquished and won 47-43. All 14 players played in both halves; there really is little separation from the top to the bottom of the roster.
Our offense was a little stagnant, and we dribbled too much at times, but we also did some great things, like a perfect pick and pop for a late basket, and a great dribble-at backdoor for a wide open reverse lay-up (missed). Our press created turnovers and easy chances, but our spacing often was poor when we had 3v1 or even 4v1 fast breaks. Our best shooter also couldn’t buy a bucket – we were on the verge of creating separation a couple times and had a wide open three or lay-up in transition roll off the rim. It happens.
At half, I heard that our shooter had said that he wasn’t going to shoot anymore because he missed his first three shots. I found him and told him that if he didn’t shoot, he was coming out. I don’t want him to think about shooting; he’s good enough that when he catches, and he is open, I want him to shoot every time. His shot isn’t perfect, as I’d like to clean up some of his bad footwork habits, but when he is open, he’s pretty consistent.
It was a weird game because overall I thought the guys played hard and played aggressively. However, when I think of our opponent’s baskets, there were guys walking back in transition. We fouled too much, as they were in the double bonus in the 3rd quarter, and we never adjusted to the officials. We attacked the basket aggressively, but then finished passively, ducking and avoiding contact rather than going through contact. We rebounded pretty well, but we didn’t really block out.
Always good to play a game and have other team’s expose weaknesses for us to fix. Lots of work to do on Monday, as we play again on Tuesday. We’re in that stretch of the season where development (practice time) is sacrificed.
By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League